These predictions are specifically based on Ottoneu FGpt scoring. Perhaps “Bold” isn’t defined clearly enough, but my hope is that this is structured in such a way that my thought process can provide some benefit (even if the predictions seem a little extreme at face value.)
1. Domingo Santana will be a top 15 OF.
Nelson Cruz, Yasiel Puig, Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, Starling Marte, Adam Jones… If you looked at our FGpt OF rankings, these are the 15-20th ranked outfielders. Which is to say, I think Domingo Santana could be better than all of them (and the rest of those listed below him in our rankings) in 2016. The Brewers do not look like a good team (yet…) so – unless he gets injured – expect a full slate of playing time, a great home park, and lots of power (three things that are gold in linear weights scoring.) The obvious hole in his game is the strikeouts (34% in 2015), but if he can reign that in at all, the upside is tremendous.
2. John Jaso will be a viable 2nd OF
The obvious issue has been playing time (70, 99, 70 games played over the past 3 seasons), but given that he slated to play 1B, I feel fairly confident he will play more games than he has in any of the past 3 seasons. If he does, he could easily produce value which is expected of many #2 OF in FGpts. The Pirates’ outfield is set, so don’t expect him to retain eligibility for 2017, but he should be incredibly useful for this season. Alex Gordon, Starling Marte, Adam Jones, Christian Yelich, Charlie Blackmon, and Yoenis Cespedes are all projected to be within 5 points of wOBA of Jaso. Those players will cost $18-$25 apiece. If he can stay on the field, Jaso has a good chance to be in that tier, and you can get him for about a third of that price.
I love Raisel Iglesias. Everyone does – to the point that including him in a bold prediction column probably causes it to lose “boldness.” So, I want to use Iglesias to write about Vince Velasquez. Projections love him, he has 3 plus pitches, and (like Santana above) he is on a team which will give him every opportunity to succeed (or fail). On his pitches: His fastball, curve, and slider all grade out as above average based on pitch f/x data. However, prior to last season, many scouting reports mentioned Velasquez’ changeup as his best pitch (Kiley graded it as a 60FV offering prior to last season). If he starts to get better results on his changeup, he has the makings of an elite arsenal. His flyball tendencies will be an issue in Philadelphia, but my wager is that his stuff is sufficient enough for him to avoid being homer prone. Neither Velasquez or Iglesias is in a good park, and Velasquez will likely throw less innings. However, the two seem very comparable. You wouldn’t know it based on pre-season hype or Ottoneu auction prices.
4. Edwin Encarnacion will be a top-4 1B
.396, .388, .389, .392… Those are Encarnacion’s wOBA totals from each of the past four seasons. I think the projections (low .370 wOBAs) are age-regressing him too heavily and he will put up another season with a wOBA north of .385. By projections, Encarnacion is slightly below Abreu and Freeman, but I think he will finish above both of them. To raise the stakes – Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera, and Anthony Rizzo are firmly entrenched as the top-4 Ottoneu FGpt 1B going into 2016, and I think Encarnacion will score more points than one of them in 2016.
5. No RP will produce $20 of value.
Of the four Ottoneu contributors on Rotographs, I was the only one to rank no RP above $20 in our rankings. Aroldis Chapman has a 30 game suspension. Andrew Miller is no longer a closer because of Chapman. Dellin Betances now has to share innings with the aforementioned Chapman and Miller. Each of these 3 could push $20 of value, but I think they will all take too many opportunities away from each other to reach the $20 threshold. Craig Kimbrel could put up $20 of value, but he took a slight step back last year and has moved to a much worse park. In the next tier, Zach Britton, Wade Davis, Trevor Rosenthal, and Ken Giles all have a slight step to take to crack the $20 tier. The obvious candidate I am leaving out (and the RP who poses the greatest threat to this prediction) is Kenley Jansen. If I’m spending on any of the top RP in 2016, it’s him. His team is great, his skills are elite, and he has no clear threats to his closer role.
6. Danny Valencia will be a top-60 OF
In nearly 400 PAs last year Valencia posted a .367 wOBA along with 5.19 PPG. That was good for 39th among OF. He hit righties for the first time in his career, so – playing for the A’s – there is decent risk he goes back to being on the short side of a platoon. However, I think the A’s will give him enough time (or have few enough options, rather) to see if any of the tweaks he made in 2015 will carry forward.
7. David Peralta will be a top-8 OF
Why top-8? When we did our FGpt OF rankings this offseason, the top-8 OF included Trout, Harper, Stanton, Bryant, Bautista, Davis, and Betts. That’s some lofty company, but I want to go out on a limb and say that come season’s end, Peralta will post more points than someone in that group. Last season, while being mostly relegated to the strong side of a platoon, he put of 5.28 PPG and and a .380 wOBA. While regression will be a factor in 2016, I do not think it will be as strong as expected (Depth Charts have him at a .347 wOBA). Certainly there is concern that he will only be a platoon bat, but given his career arch and the other options in the D-Back’s OF, I expect him to set a new career high in PAs. He has only had 171 PAs against LHP in 2 seasons (for a putrid .267 wOBA) but I believe that given more looks against them, he can be a non-zero performer against LHP in 2016.
8. No rookie will produce $15 of value
Last year’s rookie class was historic. Bryant, Correa, Sano, Syndergaard, Pederson, Lindor, and Franco (to name a few) were key contributors on a number of Ottoneu squads in 2015. I do not expect the same to be true of the 2016 rookie class. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of rookies I like. I think A.J. Reed, J.P. Crawford, Julio Urias, Blake Snell, and Tyler Glasnow could all debut and play very well, but I believe playing time will be enough of a factor that none of them will cross the $15 threshold. The obvious name I am leaving off is Corey Seager. I LOVE Corey Seager and have him as a mid $20 player myself, but this is a bet that something (injuries, adjustments to MLB, etc.) will keep him from topping the $15 plateau. In Ottoneu, top prospects and young players are often the hottest of commodities. The larger lesson here is that we shouldn’t allow 2015’s historic class to unrealistically alter our expectations for the new crop of 2016 rookies.
9. Maikel Franco will be a top-2 3B
When we published our 2016 Ottoneu 3B rankings, Franco was 7th on the list behind Donaldson, Sano, Arenado, Beltre, Frazier, and Seager. I am removing Sano from this list because I expect him to gain OF eligibility (which is where you should play him). Currently, Donaldson and Arenado are the clear top-tier with a decent gap between the Beltre, Frazier, et al. group. I prefer Franco to Beltre, Frazier, and Seager (and you should be able to get him for less in most leagues) due to upside, but saying he will outscore that group didn’t feel bold enough. So for whatever reason – and I’m not sure what that will be – I am watching for Franco to outscore either Donaldson or Arenado in 2016.
10. By season’s end, Justin Vibber will own 85% of all Clayton Blackburns in Ottoneu
Okay, this almost feels wrong… I actually like Blackburn, but taking credit for him outside of mentioning fellow Ottoneu contributor Justin Vibber would cause a ruckus. Joking aside, Blackburn is MLB ready and if he can squeeze into the Giants’ rotation could put up a season similar to what Chris Heston did last year – a perfectly usable depth piece in Ottoneu. Also, KATOH loves him – ranking him ahead of top SP prospect Blake Snell.
Joe works at a consulting firm in Pittsburgh. When he isn't working or studying for actuarial exams, he focuses on baseball. He also writes @thepointofpgh. Follow him on twitter @Ottoneutrades